Two 18-wheelers rolled to a stop on the manicured grounds of Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill Sunday morning, as more than 150 volunteers waited to unload thousands of pumpkins for the 16th Annual Pumpkin Sale to benefit local charities.
The yearly fundraiser sells as many as 15,000 pumpkins and gourds and has grossed more than $80,000 in years past to support numerous local charities, including ALIVE!, Carpenters Shelter, the Heifer Project and Network Preschool.
I think its important to note that the church keeps none of the money that comes in from this sale, said event spokesperson Susan Dawson. All of it goes directly to charity.
Proceeds will also go to support the Navajo Indians of Northern New Mexico, where the pumpkins are grown on irrigated tribal lands using controlled farming conditions, allow an abundant crop to be produced and made available for consumers at modest prices.
The pumpkins themselves are obtained through Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, an independently-owned business that has provided church and nonprofit organizations with fundraisers for more than 25 years. More than $15 million has been raised through local churches like Immanuel over the past 10 years, with more than $3 million raised for a range of charities last year alone.
The national drive has expanded to include churches of various denominations in more than 400 locations in 28 states. Of the organizations that raised more than $1.5 million for individual projects across the U.S., Immanuel Church has singularly grossed more than $80,000 in three weeks. The churchs efforts resulted in more than $40,000 given directly to local charities in 2008.
This is just the first shipment, explained Dawson. We have another semi delivering our second batch of pumpkins October 14.
Pumpkins are priced by size, ranging from $1 to $15. Prices are set by the Navajo, who send a set of model pumpkins for the church to use in sizing the ones that are sold to the pubic.
Also available for sale are autumn crafts, numerous baked goods, gourds, mini pumpkins, Indian corn, cornstalks and hay.
Additionally, set to take place during the pumpkin sale is the display and sale of traditional Native American jewelry, due to arrive sometime mid-month.
Its hard to predict when the jewelry will arrive, said Dawson. One year they [the drivers] came with a teepee and had to get through two snowstorms to get here, so we never know quite what to expect.
The Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill pumpkin sale runs through October 31 and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The church is located at 3603 Seminary Road. For more information, call 703-370-6555.